I know I've been talking non-stop about Chirp books but I think Chirp is having a positive impact on the audiobook market. Chirp has daily deals like Audible but Audible only has 1 and Chirp has 5 or so every day. This summer I've noticed that Audible often has one of the Chirp books as their Daily Deal and also they are having a lot of $5 book sales. I love competition in the free market! I'm easily spending 70% less on books (with the addition of the library and Chrip) than I spent 3 or 4 years ago.
It was an interesting, and always good, reading month. The most impactful book of the month was The Girl Behind the Gates. But there are several other great books this month. What have you read that you enjoyed?
Deacon King Kong by James McBride - This book came highly recommended by one of my blog friends so don't take my DNF status as a definitive review. I just couldn't keep up with the characters. Everyone has nicknames and both real and nicknames are used. I was confused. Plus there's lots of alcoholism. King Kong is a home brew.
Collateral by Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson - #6 in the Tier One series. Exactly like the first 5. Decided I'm tired of them.
Fast Girls by Elsie Hooper - This book is historical fiction based in the lives of 3 female Olympians in the 1928 and 1936 games. I thought it would by like Code Girls but it's way more fiction than history.
The Day That Never Comes
By Caimh McDonnell, Read By Morgan C.Jones
This is the second of four books in The Dublin Trilogy. That statement alone indicates that this is a humor series. I read the first book last month. These books are set in Ireland and the main character, Paul Mulchrone, has opened a new detective agency. One of his partners won't talk to him and the other, former detective Bunny McGarry, has disappeared.
Meanwhile, the citizenry has had it with the people who destroyed the economy in the 00's but escaped with their own wealth in tack. Some new group had apparently decided to take on their own revenge crusade.
These books are best described as the Irish version of Carl Hiaasen. I think they will read better in a written book rather than audio. It all depends on your ability to follow a deep Irish accent.
The Ride of Her Life
By Elizabeth Letts, Read by Tavia Gilbert
One of my favorite books, The Eighty Dollar Champion, was written by Letts. Her love of horses is obvious but she also loves the people who own those horses. This book is about Mesannie Wilkins. She was 63 in 1954 and flat broke when she was told that she had a terminal illness and should move into a charity home. Instead she made enough money to buy a horse and she left Minot, Maine for California. It was her dying wish to see the Pacific Ocean.
It's a fascinating story of her almost 2-year journey and a great read.
The Last Year of the War
By Susan Meissner, Read By Kimberly Farr
Elise Sontag is 14 and lives in Iowa during WWII. Her father is and German immigrant and is accused (wrongly) of being a spy. They are sent to an internment camp in Texas where Elise befriends Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from LA. They become best friends and make plans for their lives after they turn 18. When they are both about 16, they are each sent "back" to Germany and Japan in exchange for American prisoners. The two girls keep in touch for a while but eventually lose track of each other.
The story revolves around Elise and opens when Elise is elderly and recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She has, inexplicably to me, remained completely fixated on her youthful friendship with Mariko and that's the basis for the entire book. She seems to have a constant cloud over here despite ending up with a pretty awesome life after the war.
I read As Bright As Heaven in March and didn't love it. I didn't hate it either. I think Meissner does a great job of reminding us of some trying times in out history but her characters are so burdened that it's a bit of a slog to get through the stories.
The Night Swim
By Megan Goldin, Read By January LaVoy and Bailey Carr
I'm so grateful to my friend, Marcy, for turning me on to Chirp Books. Aside from the books being bargain priced (something I always love), the books are often classics that I need to read or books I've never heard of. Audible's algorithms for book recommendations are pretty horrible these days. They either recommend books that are exactly what you read recently or something off an approved woke list of authors. Chirp is refreshing. They have woke, un-woke, new, old, US and foreign translations. I love variety!
Rachel Krall is a true crime podcaster and she's heading to a coastal North Carolina town to cover the trial of a young man charged with rape. The trial is the focus of the current season of her podcast. While traveling to the town she begins to get anonymous notes from someone wanting Rachel to help figure out who murdered her sister 25 years earlier in this same town. The story is told in 3 ways: Rachel's activities around the trial, her podcast and the letters from the sister.
I am big fan of true crime TV and podcasts (The Murder Squad is my favorite). I was also fascinated with the work the Michelle McNamara did to help solve the Golden State Killer case although her obsession led her into some deadly personal behaviors. This book fed right into that same genre of entertainment for me.
This Poison Will Remain
By Fred Vargas, Read By Chris MacDonnell
Another great find from Chirp!
This is the 7th book in a series set in France featuring Commissaire Adamsberg. While investigating another case he hears about 3 elderly mend who have recently died of spider bites, specifically the Recluse spider. He decides to look into it even though the deaths are all ruled accidental. When it's discovered that the 3 men knew each other the investigation becomes more serious.
In some ways it's your standard police procedural but the subject matter is so unique that I found this book to be really refreshing. It explores every meaning and use of the word "recluse". I really enjoyed it.
Chirp only has the one book in the series in English and Audible has 3. You can tell it's a hidden gem because, even in Audible, it has less than 50 reviews. I wonder how many great books we miss because "the right people" don't ever read them?
By James Grippando, Read By Ron McLarty
I've found another new (old) series to try out. This book was first published in 1994 so it's lacking on technology. I think that's a good thing.
Jack Swytech is a defense attorney and one of his clients is about to be put to death. He tries to persuade his estranged father, the Governor of Florida, to grant a pardon. When that's unsuccessful someone decides to get revenge on both of them.
I think the basic story is really interesting and moves along at a good pace. I'm willing to try another in the series.
The Secret Keeper
By Lisa Wingate, Read By Abby Craden and Bahni Turpin
I've read two other Lisa Wingate books, Before We Were Yours and Book of Lost Friends, that I loved. She's a very good writer and created wonderfully rich characters.
The Secret Keeper is set in the Appalachian areas of North Carolina and East Tennessee and focuses on the history of the Melungeon people. That , in and of itself, is interesting to me because my best friend in High School was of Melungeon descent (Goins) and she didn't know it until she started doing genealogy in the '90's.
The book opens with Jen Gibbs starting her new job at a publishing house in NYC. An old partial manuscript mysteriously appears on her desk. She recognizes the writing of the author as someone famous for writing a time travel series set in Appalachia. Jen happens to be from that area and doesn't really want to go back.
This book was very good but wasn't as good as the first 2 that I read. This one verges a little into chick lit territory. It was still very engrossing and entertaining but it didn't have quite the depth of history as the other two books. Given that the history of the Melungeon people is so vague, I can see where she had to add more story to the story, if that makes sense. It's still a really great read.
The Beautiful and Damned
By F. Scott Fitzgerald, Read By William Dufris
If Fitzgerald's point was to make rich people seem morally bankrupt and lazy, mission accomplished! Anthony Patch is a Harvard graduate with one life mission: to wait for his Grandfather to die and inherit his wealth. He marries the beautiful Gloria and they waste their time in New York nightlife. I expect this is a story that's all too true of the 20's and today.
Flight of the Intruder
By Stephen Coonts, Read By Benjamin Darcie
I've seen Coonts on the bestseller lists for years but never tried one of his books. When this one showed up on a sale list I decided it was time to give it a try. This is the first book in the Jack Grafton series. Grafton is a fighter pilot in Vietnam. There are so few novels set in Vietnam that I was excited to give this one a try.
I can see why the series is popular. The story is good and Grafton is a great character. But I couldn't get past the details of flights. Many times it was like listening to a flight log and that part makes up way too much of the book for me.
The Girl Behind the Gates
By Brenda Davies, Read By Charlotte Strevens
This book is exactly why I love Chirp. Chirp brings me books that I'd never hear about on Audible.
In 1930 Nora Jennings had a wonderful life until an unplanned pregnancy. Her father, supported by the church, had her committed to a mental institution under the Mental Deficiency Act (Great Britain). Everyone though she would be out in a year or so. Instead she withstood incredible cruelty and mistreatment there for over 40 years.
It's heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. It's also based on true story. I couldn't put it down.
In Her Tracks
By Robert Dugoni, Read By Emily Sutton-Smith
Tracy Crosswhite is back for an 8th installment. She's returned to work after discovering the tragic death of her sister. Her spiteful boss assigns her to the cold case unit but a few of the cold cases might overlap with a new case of a missing jogger.
These books are fast paced and well written. My main beef with this one is the reliance on stupidity to get the plot going. A young woman, new to Seattle, decides to go jogging after work and she chooses some obscure trail in a neighborhood just at dusk....as opposed to a public park or jogging path. It's so obscure that she can't find the entrance without asking someone for help. Are women really that stupid? I don't think so.
Interestingly, the cases relies heavily on familial DNA modeling, like The Night Swim.
I enjoyed the book and I like the Crosswhite character but I like his Charles Jenkins series better.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.